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After finishing the previous book in this trilogy by Stephanie Garber, I knew things were going to get interesting in The Ballad of Never After. Whereas the previous series switched off to a new point of view, this one continues following Evangeline. Before I get into too many details in my opening as I could go on about this book in particular, let me just say I would give The Ballad of Never After a 4.25 out of 5 stars rating. And I’m looking forward to what happens in the final book of the Once Upon a Broken Heart trilogy.
Not every love is meant to be.
After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.
But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.
Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can…
- Published: September 13, 2022
- Page Count: 416 pages
- Genre: YA Fantasy
Thoughts on The Ballad of Never After
Warning: There will be spoilers
As I got a lot of thoughts, especially about the ending.
Short version: I loved this book. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, especially at the end where my heart shattered into a million pieces. I would recommend it. Great ride. LOL.
The Ballad of Never After takes place one day following the events of Once Upon a Broken Heart. Apollo has been cursed with being in a suspended state. So, he’s not quite dead, but he’s not quite alive either. But due to the fact that they can’t really tell anyone, the Great Houses have decided that a new heir is needed. A long-lost cousin of Apollo named Lucian, who turns out to be Luc, as Chaos has installed him to rule in place of Apollo.
Evangeline is still upset with Jacks for deceiving her and has vowed never to put her trust in him again. However, seeing as the two can’t keep away from each other, that was never going to happen. Evangeline eventually agrees to help Jacks find the stones to the Valory Arch after learning it will free Apollo from his curse. However, this is only after he awakes with two new curses: the mirror curse (any harm that happens to him will also happen to her) and the Archer’s curse (Apollo will hunt Evangeline down to kill her). So, she’s not safe anywhere at the moment as he repeatedly tries to kill her but misses each time.
Jacks and Evangeline set out to an engagement party LaLa (the Unwed Bride) is having in order to find the three remaining stones needed for the arch. Those stones are mirth, youth, and truth, as Chaos already has the luck stone. At the party, they manage to find two of the stones: youth and truth. One of which results in Evangeline killing her very first person, and the latter she doesn’t use immediately to get answers out of Jacks as someone is torturing Apollo.
Jacks ends up taking her to his childhood home where curses don’t affect anyone due to an enchantment that Queen Valor placed on it years ago following a monster attacking the village. While there Jacks and Evangeline grow closer. Both due to the fact that Evangeline gets the truth out of him (in part due to the stone) and the other due to the mirth stone being in the clock that made them feel like they were in their own private bubble. However, that bubble pops when Evangeline places the stone in an iron-cast jar. The two return to Chaos, so they can open the arch.
We learn that LaLa was once in love with one of the Valor brothers, one who could shapeshift into a dragon, and always leaves men at the altar because she longs to be reunited with him. Chaos, we find out was once Castor Valor, but turned into a vampire following his mother’s failed attempt to bring him back to life. And Jacks was the Archer, who ended up killing the fox not because he wanted to but because he kissed her. Sometime during that period most individuals related to the Valor family or close to them became the Fates. Though we don’t know exactly what caused them to turn.
Both Evangeline opens the arch, she learns that Jacks wants to go back in time to the moment he met Donatella, so he can have a chance at true love again. Even if it’s cursed never to work out as time would always happen as it does. Tella will always pick Legend. Evangeline will end up with Apollo, accused of killing him, then helping Chaos to open the arch. So, there’s really no point for Jacks going back to that point in time. However, he never ends up doing that as Evangeline is killed by Chaos when the arch is open and his helm is removed. Jacks was warned that time would take something of equal value from him and he says:
There is nothing equal value to me.
He does succeed in saving her life; however, Apollo finds Evangeline after the Archer’s curse and the Mirror curse are lifted. He wipes her of all memories except those of her parents and name, so she wouldn’t remember anything that led her to this current point in time. I have two theories regarding this:
- Apollo is looking for revenge on Jacks since he was cursed multiple times (most of which are Jacks’s fault).
- The equal value of saving Evangeline was her memories. Time had to take something, so why not twist Apollo’s actions to ensure that value happens?
I could be wrong on the last one, and by no means does that excuse Apollo. I just don’t get his angle. He was pissed when he was free of Jacks influence over his emotions to suddenly cares about Evangeline. No, I don’t buy it. And the fact he took her memories even as she begged him to stop, puts him squarely in the Nope bin. Honestly, similar to Taryn and Locke in the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, Apollo and Marisol deserve each other. Both of them are terrible people.
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